We are continuing our study of resurrection in the Old Testament. We are trying to look in a detailed fashion at what the Scriptures teach about the resurrection in the Old Testament times. Knowing full well that the Old Testament is the foundation of our faith, and then subsequently, the New modifies, adds, and expounds it even farther.
Last time we looked at the passages in Job and 1 Samuel and we learned a couple of things that I didn't realize before. For example, the most startling new understanding concerned Job 19:26 where Job says, "Yet in my flesh I shall see God." When we looked at the Hebrew, we discovered that a more appropriate translation was "Yet out of my flesh I shall see God." We also reviewed other things that gave examples of the resurrection, such as when a tree dies and rots and then springs up. So too, when we die we fall into the ground and then spring up to new life. The same illustration continues in 1 Corinthians 15 as Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes about the seed of the body going in the ground, being planted, and then the resurrection body coming forth from that seed.
If you remember, last time we began with a list of texts that may or may not have talked about the resurrection. Then, first and foremost, we made a great effort to understand exactly what the text says. More specifically, some texts in our list to review may not actually concern the resurrection. Furthermore, we want to make sure that we understand the text before we proceed farther. To do so, we first had to understand what the text actually says by exegeting (taking out of) the passage. Then, based upon the principles of hermeneutics, our next task is to come up with what the text actually means by what it says. After we have fully understood the meaning of our text, the next step is to determine whether or not that passage really teaches about the resurrection. If it does teach about the resurrection, then we look for the main teaching points of the text. Finally, to make sure that we have fully discussed the text, we apply five questions to each text trying to answer specific questions about the resurrection.
This morning we want to examine the texts we find in the Psalms that might discuss the resurrection. Although there are four of them, I will only be able to address the first three due to time limitations. The first text is in Psalm 16. So let's begin trying to understand this Psalm first before we focus on our key verses (Psalm 16:9-11). Psalm 16:1 forms an outline for the remainder of the Psalm:
Psalm 16:1 (NKJV) Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
The second part of that verse, "In you do I put my trust" summarize what verses 2-8 elaborate. "Preserve me, O God...." is further detailed in verses 9-11. Let's look first at the context of what David means when he says, "In you do I put my trust." You can see that there are numerous characteristics of David's faith demonstrated in the rest of the Psalm. For example, in verse 2b, he says, "Thou art my Lord." In verse 2c, he notes that "my goodness extendeth not to thee."Notice that he says, "MY goodness," referring to David's inherent goodness is insufficient, inferring that Gods goodness is all sufficient. In verse 4, he says, "The Lord is the only true God:"
Psalm 16:4 (NKJV) Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, Nor take up their names on my lips.
It tells us that those who go after other gods will not have any fruition because they are going after false gods. Notice also that it demonstrates that worship is limited to the true and only Lord. In the next verse, David proclaims that the Lord is his inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6 (NKJV) O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. 6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.
Because of all these things, he praises God for his counsel and providence:
Psalm 16:7 (NKJV) I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
Finally, because of all these things he says:
Psalm 16:8 (NKJV) I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
In other words, David's faith is immutable because it is based upon an immutable and unchanging God that has all the characteristics just mentioned above. Then in verses 9-11, which are the key verses possibly concerning the resurrection, we note that David makes a conclusion:
Psalm 16:9-11 (NKJV) Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Did you see the word "resurrection" in the text? Neither did I! However, you have to recall that except for maybe one verse in Daniel 12:2, there is not a single passage in the Old Testament that would even use a word that sounds like "resurrection." So we need to consider the resurrection based upon the concepts of death, Sheol, grave and afterlife. So that is what we are doing with this particular passage today.
Lets go through these verses beginning with verse 9. When David says, "My heart is glad" he is referring to what the Hebrew mind associated with the organ of thought, as in:
Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.....
So he was saying, "My heart (mind or inner man) is glad (joyful or merry)." So, deep down inside in the most internal aspect of his very being David was thrilled. What was he thrilled about? Let's go on. In the next phrase, verse 9b, David writes, "My glory rejoices." What exactly does this phrase mean? Was David thrilled because he was proud? That would be rather odd, since we know David's character, and since in verse 4 he already confessed that he was not good enough. "My glory" in this passage refers to David's tongue. This conclusion is not based upon etymology of the word, but upon a quotation of this passage by Peter in the New Testament: Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad....(Acts 2:26b). Therefore, this clause is referring to David's joy. Not only does it encompass his inner being of heart, but it also comes out in speech (through the tongue). Finally in verse 9c, he also says, "My flesh also will rest in hope." There is some debate about what this passage means. Does this mean that when he dies his flesh will be waiting and hoping for something to happen? Or is he contrasting the fact that not only is his inner being glad, his speech joyful, but also his external being, meaning his flesh or body, is also resting in hope because of Gods care and concern. More specifically, the word "rest" is most often translated "dwell"; whereas, the word "hope" in the vast majority of other uses is translated "safety." To review: David's inner being is thrilled, his speech is rejoicing and his flesh is dwelling in safety. Sounds like a man at peace. What is the basis for David's joy and security? The answer is in verse 10:
Psalm 16:10 (NKJV) For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
In the first clause in this verse, the word "leave" has the idea of abandoning something, to leave it behind. The word "Sheol" is the Hebrew word for the underworld, frequently translated in the Greek as Hades. It is that netherworld of unseen spirits of disembodied souls that are waiting to be ultimately punished for their sins or ultimately saved because of what the Lord Jesus Christ will do for them. So David is glad, rejoicing and dwelling in security because he had confidence that his soul would not be left (forsaken) in Sheol. The grave was not the end for David. Although he would go down to the grave, he would not remain there. God would not leave him there. In contrast, he continues in verse 10 to say, "Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." This is a little different. In referring to himself, David said, "You wont abandon mein Sheol." In contrast, David says specifically that the Holy One will not see corruption. Who is this Holy One? It can be referring to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, this verse is stating two separate, but distinct facts: (1) God wont allow me, David, to remain in Sheol. (2) God wont allow my Holy One or my Christ to undergo corruption. To dig farther, the word "corruption" is derived from a word which means: "to go to ruin". In this and other usage, it is specifically referring to the ruin that happens in the grave: Decay, destruction, corruption. This Psalm clearly teaches that the body of the Holy One will not see corruption. By necessity, we can infer from this passage that the Lord Jesus Christ had to arise soon after his death, otherwise his body would have undergone decay.
Moving to the next verse, David, upon contemplating his rescue from Sheol, looks to the significance of the afterlife:
Psalm 16:11 (NKJV) You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
1. There will be a path of life. 2. In his presence there is fullness of joy. There will be complete fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ and with his Father. Total fellowship as David is now in the presence of Christ and God, the Father. 3. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. If you recall from other studies, being at the right hand of someone indicates being closely associated with that individual. Most often, the Scriptures describe being on the right hand of the throne of God. Being at God's right hand implies dominion and rule. So David is looking toward being on the right hand of God. God is ruling in all eternity so, also is David, the right hand man, ruling with dominion. So there are three things that result after David's resurrection; life, fellowship and ruling for evermore. Now do you see why David is glad, joyful, resting? He not only is not going to be forsaken to eternal Sheol, but upon deliverance from Sheol, he will be granted life, fellowship, and rule.
This is not the conclusion of our study of this verse. If we limit our examination of this passage to just this text alone, we would say that at the prospect of David's death, he is glad and he rejoices because he knows that he wont be left in Sheol forever. Furthermore, the Holy One, the Lord Jesus Christ, will not be allowed to undergo decay. The ultimate end and conclusion of his resurrection are that David would have life, fellowship and ruling at the right hand of God. However, by using the hermaneutical principle of the analogy of faith, (that is, Scripture interprets Scripture) a more accurate interpretation of this passage is available since there is an inspired commentary of this passage found in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit, not mere men, has given us an inspired commentary on Psalm 16. This is helpful to me because I realize that commentaries are written by infallible men who are subject to error. However, when an apostle of God takes a passage and explains what it means, it is infallibly correct.
In Acts 2, it was the day of Pentecost manifested by tongues of fire and prophetic speech. Some observers accused the brethren of being drunk. Peter arises and makes a speech, saying that this is what Joel had predicted in his prophecy (Acts 2:18). Then Peter elaborates further, telling the audience who the Lord Jesus Christ is.
Acts 2:22-25 (NKJV) "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know; 23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 "For David says concerning Him:
From here to verse 28 is Psalm 16:8-11.
Acts 2:25-28 (NKJV) "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. 27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'
Acts 2:29 (NKJV) "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day."
The point that Peter is making is that when David wrote this Psalm, he was not talking about himself. He was obviously talking about Him, "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it" (Acts 2:24 NKJV). Furthermore, if David was referring to himself not being left in Sheol and not being allowed to see corruption, then we have a problem. David's tomb is still with us today. David's body, his carcass, is rotting in the ground. So obviously, David could not have been talking about himself. He goes on:
Acts 2:30-31 (NKJV) "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
With exegesis alone, we would have concluded that Psalm 16:9-11 was referring primarily to David himself, except for the brief reference to the Holy One in verse 10b. However, by using the Holy Spirit's inspired commentary, we discover that the resurrection of Christ is the primary interpretation of this entire passage. Note that in Acts 2:31, Peter emphasizes that both clauses in Psalm 16:10 refer to the resurrection of Christ. It wasn't merely that Christ's body would not see corruption, but also, that his soul would not be left in Hades.
To continue with the same hermaneutical principle, we can find further evidence to support our interpretation of this passage in Acts 13. This is Paul on his first missionary journey. He gets a chance to make a speech too:
Acts 13:32-33 (NKJV) "And we declare to you glad tidings; that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 "God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'
As a side issue, at first glance, the second Psalm does not seem to refer to the resurrection, but here (also see Romans 1:4), Paul quotes the second Psalm and links it to Christ's resurrection. We will look at the passage in the second Psalm in a future message.
Acts 13:34-37 (NKJV) "And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.' 35 "Therefore He also says in another Psalm (Psalm 16): 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' 36 "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 "but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.
Again, we can determine from this passage that Psalm 16:10 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone. The promise was to the Lord Jesus Christ that He would not be abandoned to Hades nor would He see decay. In contrast, David underwent decay like all others. When the Lord Jesus Christ was raised, He was raised never to undergo decay again, as it says in verse 34 (or in Psalm 16:10). So these commentaries on Psalm 16 in the book of Acts require us to interpret Psalm 16 as a reference to Christ's resurrection.
Now that we have established accurately, the interpretation of Psalm 16, let's go back to Psalm 16 and ask the two major questions that we have applied to every passage that we have discussed to date:
1.) How likely is it that this text teaches about the resurrection? It is indisputable that it teaches about the resurrection. You have two inspired apostles saying, and a third inspired writer (Luke) recording that this refers to the resurrection of Christ.
2.) What are the readily apparent main teaching points to be gleaned from this text? Firstly, the Holy One (the Lord Jesus Christ) was not to undergo decay after death. Clearly, it was not promised to David that he would not undergo decay. David's body saw corruption as did the bodies of all believers in Old Testament time and as do all believers in the New Testament time. Secondly, beyond the fact that the Christ did not undergo decay, verse 11 emphasizes the results of Christ's resurrection. Christ's physical body was not merely to be a reanimation of a dead body. In the past, there had been raisings of the dead to life. Lazarus was raised, but was he resurrected? No, he was merely restored to life (reanimated). Similarly, consider the widow's son that Christ raised from the dead, or the widow's son that Elijah raised from the dead. In all these cases the difference was that these individuals were merely reanimated to die again, but Christ was resurrected. He was resurrected not to merely resume life, but toward a future direction. These are recorded for us in verse 11. Firstly, He was resurrected so that He would continue on forevermore in the path of life (never to die again, to contrast with reanimation). Secondly, after being resurrected, He would have fullness of joy, complete and total fellowship with His Father. You know and I know that He always had complete and total fellowship with His Father except for that moment upon Calvary when He bore our sins. After the resurrection, there would never be a break in fellowship with His Father. Thirdly, Christ rose to be restored as the rightful ruler of the entire universe being at the right hand of the Father. Finally, as the supreme ruler, He would have pleasures forever more. In his resurrection, Christ would see, as it says in other passages, the satisfaction of His soul. That having obeyed His Father even to death on the cross, He would be exalted as it says in Philippians 2. Contained, therefore, in this Psalm, is the prophecies of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Moreover, we find that Christ's resurrection was unto life, fellowship, and dominion.
This leaves us with the final five, more specific questions of our text.
1.) What is the nature of the resurrection? Clearly, it is referring to a physical resurrection that would not allow Christ's body to remain in the grave and see corruption. Furthermore, according to Acts 13:34, this physical resurrection would be permanent, such that Christ's body was raised to never see corruption. However, this was not only a physical resurrection, but it was a spiritual resurrection also. Remember, that upon death, the Lord Jesus Christ's soul went to Hades/Sheol. The inspired apostles apply not only 10b but also 10a to Christ's resurrection. Peter, in Acts 2:31, emphasizes that it was also Christ's soul that would not be abandoned in Sheol. So, the passage teaches us that there was not merely a physical resurrection of Christ but also a spiritual one as well, in that His soul would not be left in Hades. Notice also that resurrection is more than a permanent reanimation of the body with a soul, but rather it is a resurrection to life, fellowship, and dominion.
2.) Why is this resurrection important to the author? Remember the context. If we return to the beginning verse the Psalmist writes, "Preserve me, O God." Psalms 16:1 (NKJV). We have also learned that verses 8-11 clearly apply to the Lord Jesus Christ as the actual speaker in this Psalm. It is a safe assumption that the entire Psalm is none other than the Lord praying as recorded by the prophet David. So, David, as the author, can take confidence in the fact that the champion of his faith, the Lord Jesus Christ will be resurrected to life, fellowship, and dominion. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ (who is the speaker of the Psalm) can also rest (see verse 8) in the preservation (verse 1) of his soul and body (verses 9-11).
3.) When will this resurrection occur? It would necessarily have to occur soon after the death of the Holy One (Lord Jesus Christ). How do we make that conclusion? If you left the Holy One in the ground very long, he would rot. So, it couldn't be too long. So, we know from the psalm that Christ's resurrection must occur soon after his death. Subsequently, in other Scriptures, we know that the Lord rose the third day.
4.) Who was resurrected? This passage refers to the resurrection of Christ, and to His resurrection alone. Peter makes this clear in Acts 2:31. To apply this verse to all believers is a mis-application of this text. Furthermore, our own experience tells us that believers undergo decay. Therefore, all the discussion concerning this passage is unique because it refers to the unique resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5.) Does it say how the resurrection occurs? No.
Having finished Psalm 16, we will move to our next Old Testament passage, which happens to be Psalm 17. Psalm 17 is also a Psalm of David. There are some similarities and differences between Psalm 16 and 17. Unlike Psalm 16, this Psalm has very much a sense of urgency in it. Psalm 16 begins with a plea for preservation:
Psalm 16:1 (NKJV) Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
Notice, however, the beginning of Psalm 17:
Psalm 17:1 (NKJV) Hear a just cause, O LORD, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Note the urgency here: "hear a just cause; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer." Again, the psalmist is bringing a plea before God, but let's see what might be producing the urgency of his request.
In verses 1b-4, David discusses the basis for bringing these requests to God. In verse 1b, David says, "Lord, listen to me, pay attention to what I am about to say, because what I am about to say comes from one who is truthful and without deceit." Continuing,
Psalm 17:2-4 (NKJV) Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright. 3 You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. 4 Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
David is pleading his case like a lawyer. He is laying down the foundation for his requests. Verses 1b-4 are the qualifications for David to plea his case before the bar of God. Furthermore, due to the emphasis on David's righteousness, there is implication that his plea is for God to right an unrighteousness that David sees. Let's see if we are on the right track as David continues in verses 5-8 to make some specific requests.
Psalm 17:5-8 (NKJV) Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip. 6 I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech. 7 Show Your marvelous loving kindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You From those who rise up against them. 8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
In these verses, David makes only one request: Preservation from evil. More specifically, he pleads for preservation in God's path (verse 5a). This stands in contrast to the paths of the destroyer (verse 4). He pleads for preservation from slipping along the way (verse 5b). Parenthetically, David's request is based upon David's call (verse 6a), God's openness to prayer (verse 6b), God's kindness (verse 7a), and David's faith (verse 7b). Finally, he reiterates his request in verse 8 for God to keep him and hide him (that is preserve him). Then in verses 9-12, he specifically mentions those from whom he desires to hide and contrasts these wicked to himself.
Psalm 17:9-12 (NKJV) From the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me. 10 They have closed up their fat hearts; With their mouths they speak proudly. 11 They have now surrounded us in our steps; They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, 12 As a lion is eager to tear his prey, And like a young lion lurking in secret places.
The characteristics of the wicked are: they oppress (verse 9a); they surround David (verse 9b); they are proud (verse 10); they have identified their prey (verse 11); they are hidden, ready to tear their prey (verse 12). Skipping verse 13 temporarily, David then goes on in verse 14, to mention more characteristics of the wicked.
Psalm 17:14 (NKJV) With Your hand from men, O LORD, From men of the world who have their portion in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure. They are satisfied with children, And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.
This verse emphasizes the ultimate end of the wicked: Their portion is in this life (verse 14a); their true treasure is hidden (verse 14b); their future is their children (verse 14c); and they leave their inheritance to their children (verse 14d).
You noticed that I skipped verse 13 because in his description of the characteristics of the wicked, David continues his prayer from verses 5-8. As you recall in those verses, David was asking for preservation from the wicked, but now:
Psalm 17:13 (NKJV) Arise, O LORD, Confront him, cast him down; Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
David goes beyond his request for preservation, but more specifically, he now requests the method for his preservation. David does not request merely a preservation from evil, but a deliverance from the wicked. He wants God to frustrate their plans and to disappoint them. Therefore, David requests that his deliverance would come through the means of God's judgment (God's sword) upon the wicked. It was then, after this plea for God's capital punishment upon the wicked, that David wrote verse 14. Upon the death of the wicked, David contemplates their destiny: They have children, but, ultimately, when they die, they leave everything behind. They have nothing that they take with them. All their temporal goods, and in a sense, their very lives, are left behind to their children. This stands in stark contrast to verse 15:
Psalm 17:15 (NKJV) As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
"As for me", contrasted with the wicked in verse 14, "When I die, I am not going to leave my substance, my treasure behind. My portion is not in this world." As for me "I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." The major thrust of this passage is not so much what happens at resurrection but what are the results of the resurrection. The results of the resurrection are these:
1.) He will behold Gods face. The idea behind looking at Gods face is actually seeing Him for who he is. If you recall, when the people of Israel left Egypt and were wandering, they frequently went against Moses and weren't too happy with him as a leader. One of the responses that God gave them was, "I spoke to other people with shadows and signs but with my servant Moses I speak face to face" (See Numbers 12:6-8). The concept of "face to face" in our passage arises from the concept of complete and total access to God. In the New Testament era, it is a difficult concept to recall that the Old Testament people had no direct access to God. Even Moses could not fully see God's face (see Exodus 34:12-23). There was a veil that prevented access to God (but also protected man from God's judgment). Note the two fold reasons for the veil: No access to God; No judgment from God. After he awoke, however, there would be no veil. David would have face to face fellowship, unhindered and unseparated by the veil. The absence of the veil suggests that he would have complete access to God. Furthermore, David's sin that prevented fellowship was now fully atoned. Now David will have complete and total fellowship with his Savior and with God the Father. Please note that in the New Covenant, in contrast to the Old, the veil has been torn down. Although David had to wait for his resurrection to have unhindered fellowship, we can have full fellowship with God today.
So, the first result of the resurrection was that he was going to behold Gods face. We obtain a second result of the resurrection by noting, additionally, that he is going to behold Gods face in righteousness. He wasn't going to see God as merely a God of grace and mercy but also as a God of justice. A God that would vindicate David. Remember how this psalm started?
Psalm 17:1 (NKJV) Hear a just cause, O LORD, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
David is proclaiming in verse 1, "I want justice." In verse 15 when David passes through the valley of the shadow of death, he will behold Gods justice. Justice is manifested in the ultimate end of the wicked versus David. The resurrection answers David's plea for justice. He will be granted to behold the face of God and have fellowship forevermore. Therefore, the second result of the resurrection is the vindication of David.
Notice that David will not only be vindicated for his faith (verse 7), but he also says, "I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." The words "Your likeness" mean: "the form of God." This word is often used in other places to describe the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2:6 (NKJV) who, being in the form (homousius) of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
The Greek word Homousious means: "the very essence." This text tells us that Christ is the very essence of God. The word "likeness" in Psalm 17:15, is translated from the Hebrew to Greek in the Septuagint as Homousious of God, which properly interpreted refers to the very essence of God. Therefore, David cannot be saying that he would awaken to find himself God-like: That would be blasphemous. Rather, David upon awakening to God's likeness, will be satisfied with what he observes. Who is God's likeness? Only the Lord Jesus Christ qualifies. In other words, when David, who had been in Sheol, wakes up (resurrects) he will see and behold God in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the third result of resurrection is satisfaction with God's likeness.
Now that we have established accurately the interpretation of Psalm 17, let's go back to Psalm 17 and ask the two major questions that we have applied to every passage that we have discussed to date:
1.) How likely is it that this passage is talking to us about the resurrection? This passage is clearly referring to something in the afterlife. Therefore, it refers not to the resurrection per se, but the fruits of David's resurrection. David's ultimate vindication, his ultimate justification, comes not in this life but in the next life, the after life. In order to transform between this life and the afterlife, there must be necessarily a transformation that we call "the resurrection." Furthermore, in verse 15, he uses the expression, "when I awake." The Hebrew word gives us the idea of abruptly waking up from sleep or being startled to an awake state. So, the use of that word also connotes a resurrection. Other texts that also use this word "awake" (2 Kings 4:31, Job 14:12, Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2), refer to a resurrection event. Therefore, based upon the interpretation of verse 15 and the use of the word "awake", I conclude that it is highly likely that David is talking about the resurrection. Therefore, we can use this Psalm to aid in our understanding of the resurrection.
2.) What are the main teaching points to be gleaned from this text? The main teaching point of this text is not that the resurrection will occur (which is assumed) or what would be resurrected, but rather, what will be the results of resurrection. As noted previously, there are three results of the resurrection: 1. David will behold Gods face. This gives us the idea of fellowship. 2. David will behold God's face in righteousness. This gives us the idea of vindication of the righteous. 3. David will be satisfied with Gods likeness. This is being satisfied with seeing the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the results of resurrection are fellowship, vindication and satisfaction.
This leaves us with the five final, more specific questions of our text.
1.) What is the nature of the resurrection? It doesn't specifically state what the resurrection being is like. We know from this text that it is the person of David that awakens. This resurrected David must have had memory of his life on earth. Don't forget that David's vindication would be meaningless if he had no memory of what had happened in his life. Therefore, we can conclude that at the resurrection, David retains memory of his life on earth.
2.) Why is the resurrection important to the author? I think it should be pretty obvious. David is demanding justice. He's saying, "I want a just cause, Lord." (Psalm 17:1) He's pleading for vindication of his own righteousness that is based upon his trust in God (Psalm 17:7). He's demanding vindication and he's vindicated in the resurrection. (Psalm 17:15) That is why it is so important to him.
3.) When will this occur? The text doesn't give us any information as to the time of the resurrection.
4.) Who's going to be resurrected? David. He wrote the psalm; he's talking about himself. This text may safely be applied to Old Testament believers who put trust in God and were also under wicked persecution. Their vindication would be at the resurrection.
5.) Does this say how the resurrection occurs? Not exactly. Although in the word "awake" there is the connotation of being startled to an awake state.
For our final text, we will turn to Psalm 49. Our key verses are verses 14b-15.
Psalm 49: 14b-15 (NKJV) The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah
As you might recall, I preached a message about this passage on a previous Sunday. Therefore, I will not fully reiterate the context at this time, but direct your attention to that past message should you desire a greater level of detail.
This Psalm is a riddle that the author puts before us. The author is not David but the sons of Korah. Korah was one of the harpists that worked in David's musical court. From his sons we have this riddle which is directed to all people, high and low, rich and poor (verses 1 and 2). By solving this riddle you will gain some wisdom and understanding as this dark saying is revealed to your heart (verses 3 and 4). Here's the riddle:
Psalm 49:5-6 (NKJV) Why should I fear in the days of evil, When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me? 6 Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches,
This is very similar to what we talked about in Psalm 17 and what we will see in the future when we study Psalm 73. The psalmist looks around and says, "These rich people seem to be doing okay and I am working for the Lord and I am suffering. There doesn't seem to be any justice." So he answers the riddle in:
Psalm 49:7-9 (NKJV) None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him; 8 For the redemption of their souls is costly, And it shall cease forever; 9 That he should continue to live eternally, And not see the Pit.
These verses tell us that money can't buy everything. It can't redeem a soul from death (the Pit).
Psalm 49:10-13 (NKJV) For he sees wise men die; Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, And leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, Their dwelling places to all generations; They call their lands after their own names. 12 Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; He is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the way of those who are foolish, And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah
Verse 10 tells us that death comes to all men. They leave their money to others. Verses 10b-13 tells us that money only gives false assurance, because after you're dead, you don't have anything. Even if you have buildings named after you or lands that bear your name, it doesn't matter because you are going to die and you will be stuck in the grave. Verse 14 tells us what happens to the wicked:
Psalms 49:14 (NKJV) Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;
The idea behind being laid in the grave is that the wicked people are appointed to go to the grave. Then once they are in the grave, it says the death will feed on them. The concept is like a sheep eating on a pasture. They just slowly graze on the grass. That is the word picture of what happens when they die. Sheol is slowly feeding on them, consuming them. Furthermore, notice as it says in verse 14b, "The upright (referring to himself) shall have dominion over them in the morning." In contrast to the wicked, whose grave slowly consumes them, the upright will have dominion or rule over them. This will occur in the morning. Does that mean like the following day? Obviously not. In this passage, the concept of morning is that which follows the night after the transformation of resurrection. Therefore, the result of the resurrection is dominion. The upright will have dominion over the foolish. For the wicked, however, "their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling." This is contrasted with the righteous:
Psalms 49:15 (NKJV) But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah
So, having concluded that trusting in riches and temporal things is pure folly, the sons of Korah note that the grave does not hold the same significance for the righteous. The idea of "redeem" is that of rescue or ransom from the grasp of the grave. The word "picture" in the Hebrew is that of the grave clasping like the claws of a bird while God is figuratively ripping the claws open and taking out the upright ones. The resurrection is, therefore, a tearing away of the righteous from the power of the grave by the superior power of God.
Our interpretation of this passage is that death comes upon all men. For the wicked, death is similar to the beasts. It occurs in a point of time. They are placed in Sheol. And in Sheol, the wicked or foolish will be consumed. However, the upright will be ransomed from Sheol by the power of God. After this resurrection, the upright will be received by God and have dominion over the wicked.
Now that we have established accurately, the interpretation of Psalm 49, let's go back to Psalm 49 and ask the two major questions that we have applied to every passage that we have discussed to date:
1.) How likely is it that this text teaches about resurrection? It discusses the subject indirectly. Similarly to Psalm 17, it doesn't discuss the resurrection per se, but refers to the results of the resurrection. As you recall, Psalm 17 described events that happened after the Psalmist "awoke". This Psalm refers to events that happen in the morning; dominion over the wicked. Therefore, both Psalms refer to the results of the resurrection.
2.) What are the main teaching points to be gleaned from this text? The power of God will redeem the righteous from the power of the grave. Although death feeds upon the wicked and consumes them, God redeems the upright from its power. Furthermore, in the morning (at the resurrection), the upright will have dominion over the foolish.
This leaves us with the final five, more specific questions of our text.
1.) What exactly is the nature of the resurrection? Before I go further, I need to emphasize that the main teaching point of this text is not the nature of the resurrection, but the results of the resurrection. The nature of the resurrection is not specifically stated. However, note that the psalmist does not say that his body and flesh will be redeemed from the grave, but merely that his soul would. Notice what verse 15 says:
Psalms 49:15 (NKJV) But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah
Conspicuously absent in this text, is any reference to the body that happens to be physically lying in the grave. By implication, the central power of the grave was not over the body (flesh), but over the soul. The redemption from that power, at least in this Psalm, is directed towards the releasing of the soul from the grave.
2.) Why is the resurrection important to the author? Again, there is the idea of vindication. Remember the Psalm began with a riddle, "Why are the wicked prospering? Why should I fear?" His answer is that they are going to die like beasts, but he's going to be resurrected. Furthermore, at his resurrection, he will ultimately have dominion over those who boasted in riches. Unlike Psalm 17 that focused on fellowship, vindication and justice, this Psalm focuses on vindication and dominion.
3.) When will this resurrection occur? It occurs in the morning. To the literalist, it would require that the resurrection occur between 12:00 AM and 9:00 AM. However, I don't think the literal approach is correct here. Although morning reflects the dawning of a new day, the terms "day and night" are figurative in this passage. The "night" refers to a time period in the grave, while the "day" refers to the period of dominion to follow. The concepts of "day and night" are figurative, so also is the concept of "morning" in this passage. The resurrection occurs at the transition period between the night and new day. Note that at the time of the resurrection, dominion of the upright is established. Of necessity, it follows that whenever the resurrection occurs, it will have the characteristic of dominion of the upright.
4.) Who exactly is going to be resurrected? In this Psalm, the primary reference is to the author who will have been personally redeemed and received. However, all men are to contemplate this Psalm, "Hear this, all you people." The riddle is given to everybody. So, clearly, the answer to this riddle is meaningless, if the answer was limited to the results of the resurrection of the author. Therefore, this riddle, and hence the results of this riddle, must be applied to all people. The answer to the riddle lies in the fact that all the upright are going to be resurrected (redeemed from Sheol) and vindicated. All the upright will have dominion.
5.) How does this resurrection occur? It doesn't say. There is nothing in this text that specifically states how the resurrection is to occur. However, the psalmist only discusses the redeeming of his soul from the grave in resurrection. The physical aspects of resurrection are ignored, possibly inferring that resurrection is of the soul and not necessarily of the body.
This completes our study for today. I didn't have time to discuss Psalm 73, which I will address when this series continues. Furthermore, there remain seven more passages in the prophets that we need to address after we examine Psalm 73. Hopefully, as we continue in this study we will obtain a greater understanding concerning the resurrection of believers, as taught by the Old Testament.